Archive

ABC

tracee

For a moment, put aside whatever opinion of the series itself you may have taken away from its ABC premiere last Wednesday night. Ignore whatever feelings Anthony Anderson’s generally overwrought and underwhelming acting tends to evoke, or even the sour taste left in your mouth by an accused rapist continually appearing on your television without at least bothering to play a professional sport. Disregard ABC’s track record of simply feigning interest in socially aware comedy and/or representation, while vehemently maintaining the status quo. Instead, consider for a moment the prevalent critical response to the series, Black-ish, whose premiere managed “near perfect lead-in retention out of Modern Family,” according to TV by the Numbers. That is to say, those who watched ABC’s current flagship family sitcom stuck around to check out its colorized version.

With tongue firmly planted in cheek, Black-ish, as the title suggests, offers ABC’s audience (which the fourth-place network lauds as “upscale” and “affluent”) an overtly non-threatening, semi-Black comedy. Some critics have already drawn a line separating Black-ish from other series with primarily black casts based largely on its presence in a coveted network time slot, but with a heavy implication of presumed white-friendly quality.

In a post-Tyler Perry world, there’s even more of a stigma that comes with having a cast of primarily black actors: However talented the cast is, the writing leaves way too much to be desired; from that point on, no other black show, apparently, has a chance. Black-ish isn’t relegated to OWN, TBS, or BET (or, in a past life, UPN); it’s a sitcom on a broadcast network, just like The Middle or Modern Family. (LaToya Ferguson, AV Club)

The move here is a peculiar one, but has recently been attempted within countless articles and commentaries: simultaneously praise Black-ish and ABC’s push towards diversity in a space that’s been sorely lacking for a significant amount of time (often the key is to invoke The Cosby Show as the gold standard), while wholly diminishing the work done by other creatives and entertainment outlets that cater to audiences of color. Let’s be clear. Tyler Perry isn’t producing pretend television as his creations continue to set ratings records for the OWN Network. Mara Brock Akil isn’t phoning it in with her numerous acclaimed offerings on BET. While admittedly, there’s something not-quite-Cosby about If Loving You is Wrong or Being Mary Jane, there’s an earnestly Black presence on television (and YouTube) that are worth the attention of those seeking diversity. But certainly, that’s not what Black-ish is about.

What ultimately gives Black-ish so much warmth—a warmth reminiscent of, yes, The Cosby Show—is its optimism that audiences, of all colors, will not be turned off by its specificity. . . . Like the many, many sitcoms about the affluent white experience, this is a show that is meant to be seen and enjoyed by everyone. (Willa Paskin, Slate)

Another common element of all the e-ink spilled establishing Black-ish as the Emancipation Proclamation of primetime comedy is the emphasis on how (potentially) fulfilling the series is regardless of race. Again, the language here is coded somewhat to obfuscate its meaning, but the primary concern of audiences when presented with a cast of predominantly non-white faces is apparently that the comedy may not be inclusive enough. That there exist culturally and racially-specific threads of humor is largely undeniable. Still, the fairly obnoxious claim here is that, despite how it might appear, this well-to-do Black family is here for your enjoyment, white America. Presumably, Black-ish satisfies some latent desire for the consumption of Black bodies on television (perhaps the safest arena where this fetish plays out), particularly within the family unit, and apparently there just hasn’t been such a meal suitable for the white palate since, you guessed it, the Huxtables. The “warmth” of Black-ish is plainly its digestibility in the eyes of many.

This interpretation of the series—seemingly in spite of its merit—by the critics and tastemakers of the day has somehow unraveled as more patronizing to Black Americans than the decades of exclusion from network television each writer seems fit to rehash almost robotically. While diversity on television as a talking point is an easy one—there’s not enough, there should be more, it’s a good thing when we see it, etc.—the conversation about race is a more difficult one, several magnitudes more nuanced. Nonetheless, just as it’s hard to be surprised that the alphabet network plans to co-opt the outcry for diversity in a hopeful bid to rise from the ashes of forth place (alongside Black-ish, ABC’s new Fall lineup contains markedly more colorful offerings such as Cristela and Fresh Off the Boat, all receiving a healthy amount of kudos from those who give networks kudos for this sort of thing), it’s expected of the media to retread and provide superficial lip service surrounding the issue.

Over and over, representation is explored insincerely and although some appreciation is always warranted when the network landscape is remodeled however slightly towards inclusion, many detailed accounts of the significance of Black-ish read as overly self-gratifying. Thank you noble critics for sitting through a Black(-ish) endeavor and reminiscing gleefully on the times when Heathcliff fathered Theo into something you could deem respectable with classic gags and approachable laughs. Your white-knighting is duly noted. But if what passes for TV journalism today refuses to ask the more pertinent questions about racial representation in media, the whys and hows, it’s clear that they’re as culpable as anyone for the dearth of people of color of prominence on network television and Black-ish inevitably getting canceled. Anthony Anderson’s on it after all. I’m not hopeful. But please take some time to enjoy Tracee Ellis Ross in all her splendor.

Advertisements

gonzagaginger

Watching ABCs new midseason comedy Mixology the other night, I realized that it had completely won me over. Sneakily in fact. As a rabid consumer of scripted television, I rolled the dice on the series based purely on my appreciation of novelty and gimmicks. It’s literally pegged as “a Romantic Comedy with a Twist.” I’m in. A whole series focused on one night at a club in (fake) New York City, the premise seemed a bit imbalanced, but unique and ambitious enough to get us through these tough TV times. And at first glance, Mixology is barely that. There was something gratingly awkward and clumsy about the first few outings. Everyone seemed to eye their soulmate within moments. It was hard to believe why anyone would stay at this club for a whole hour, let alone a season. Episodes overlap significantly to the point that it’s impossible to tell if you’re watching a rerun for about ten minutes each week. Flashbacks and back stories are drawn out all the way back to birth and aren’t as entertaining or insightful as the narrator pretended they were. There’s a narrator.

But for everything that Mixology misses the mark on, there seems to be something done undeniably right. Nine episodes in, strangely enough, I don’t hate any of these people. To be fair, the bar at this bar was set unreasonably low in the pilot. When an obnoxious Brit throwing up seemed to be the most sincere thing to come out of anyone’s mouth for a whole episode, there’s not really any other direction but up. But in time, British guy, played charmingly enough by real Brit Adam Campbell, grew repentant and sincere. The bad girl/good girl duo of Maya and Liv eventually find their stride somewhere in the middle of a genuine friendship. In fact, all of the women in the show organically coming together becomes such an intriguing surprise as the show proceeds that the trigger warning drenched dirtbag schtick of the male leads stopped making me gag. This week even the bartender succumbs to hijinks that humanize him, if not just give him another thing to do besides flirt and play horrible guitar. A cliche I wholly expected to run amok for the rest of the series.

And that’s precisely what caught me unawares. Mixology is a series backed by mainstream stalwart Ryan Seacrest of all people and in its first few episodes, egregiously poured on every cliche and trope you could imagine about modern big city nightlife, 20/30-somethings looking for love, and lazy television comedies about those things. The characters were secondary to the their character types for so long — from unassuming token Black guy to bubbly blonde bottle girl — it was hard to believe this wasn’t just a cynical and mocking portrait of a small but overexposed subset of Americans. In fact, it was and probably still is. But that’s no way to live for a young comedy. We need the warmth and sweetness of the good cliches played sincerely — love at first sight, bad girl with a heart of gold,  girl power, etc. — to make the others easier to swallow. We need to believe what these characters are doing matters. The stakes need to matter. The characters themselves need to matter. And surprisingly enough, eventually it happened.

Everyone had finally showed up to the party. Surely, as a viewer you can have your favorites (don’t pick Bruce) but the whole cast has become fleshed out enough for that not to seem like a challenge anymore. There are now a variety of TV-friendly personalities drawn out in colorfully broad strokes to enjoy or berate. Particularly, Ginger Gonzaga and Kate Simses as Maya and Liv are gorgeous enough to watch 10 horrible episodes of anything but have actually began to play well off each other and develop a rapport that hints at their going out together this particular night being more than just for narrative contrast.

The ice has been officially broken, so go ahead and jump in to Mixology if you’re so inclined. It’s fun and light with enough will they or won’t they to keep you coming back each week. Or wait, until it’s inevitably canceled by ABC and catch the whole series on HuFlix drunken and lonely one Saturday evening in the near future because watching beautiful people play pretend is just as good as going out yourself and having fun. I’m pretty sure.

Bailee Madison and Marcia Gay Harden are wonderful, but you’re not going to watch this show anyway.

As you may or, perhaps more likely, may not know, ABC currently airs eight sitcoms in its weekly primetime schedule, a schedule featuring quirky alien neighbors, an “ironic” trophy wife, and various middle class families from the past and present spread about several “super fun” nights each week. In general, it’s fairly standard fare for the American Broadcast Company these days. The hits—The Middle, Modern Family, and Last Man Standing—paint straightforward portraits of today’s common man with broad topical strokes, while the struggling bunch—The Neighbors, Super Fun Night, Trophy Wife—halfheartedly and insincerely try to depict something else slightly left of the factory o’ laughs ABC has spent decades erecting out in the ‘burbs.

But it would appear that with the low viewership for the comedies that stray marginally from the cul-de-sac of the familiar, and their inevitably going the way of Happy Endings, the dust is settling on a singular comedic aesthetic for the family network. Which, for the record, isn’t much of an issue. To claim that broadcast television has a pronounced history of risk-taking or going against its self-imposed grain, wouldn’t really be the truth. In fact, ABC in the late-80s and 90s made a name for itself by celebrating how thematically homogenous it could make a lineup each and every Friday.

Sure there were some outliers in the golden TGIF days similar to that of today’s. There was at a point a show literally called Aliens in the Family. And this season’s recently canceled Back in the Game seemed pretty Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper-esque to me. (You know, without all the pesky people of color.) So not much has truly changed. But there’s a lot to be said about the packaging of these new show. Let’s take a look plainly at the names.

ABC’s current eight
1. Modern Family (2009–present)
2. The Middle (2009–present)
3. Last Man Standing (2011–present)
4. Suburgatory (2011–present)
5. The Goldbergs (2013–present)
6. Super Fun Night (2013–present)
7. Trophy Wife (2013–present)
8. The Neighbors (2012–present)
(via Wikipedia)

Numbers 1 through 5 are what could easily be considered the safe bets, very much in line with the tradition of ABC’s comedic brand. Family. Middle Class. Man. Suburbs. Funny Jews. All are literally embedded within the titles, sometimes implicitly, often overtly; and all staples of safe, well-received television for generations. But pay especially close attention to numbers 6 through 8. There’s something to be said for the lack of creativity up and down the whole list. But honestly how important is it to wow the viewer with a clever title for an old school Tim Allen fatherly, curmudgeonly vehicle? The problem seems to lie in trying to coerce an audience with subversive phrasing (really? Trophy Wife is the best you can come up with?) or lazily evoking American-style fear-mongering to not-so-subtly out the ALIENS! or, probably most damning, unenthusiastically going for the real life click-baiting like the Buzzfeed of primetime.

The titles matter. The show names hovering on your TV guide (or in your TV Guide, you hipster, you) have to tell you enough about what’s in store to elicit a channel change or warrant the DVR space. That or they have to tap into the already established thematic continuity the network is hawking these days. Family Matters, Full House, Step by Step were simply what ABC was offering once upon a time, straightforward messages, simple imagery, and corny-sweet adages to give you a reason to thank God (or “goodness” if you hate America) that it was Friday. When a show was a bit more esoteric in construction, they gave you the quick rundown of what was on—Mork & Mindy, Dinosaurs. No room for confusion. No subterfuge. No need to distance yourself from the brand. Look up again at 6 through 8.  Things aren’t looking good. But honestly enough, these are the shows that ABC itself never really gave a chance because it never really gave them the family name.

Revenge30MargaritaLevieva

Emily Thorne’s campaign for revenge has become noticeably unfocused throughout this current season of ABC’s hit drama, to the dismay of many fans. Whatever happened to the list? Who cares about the Porters? What the fuck is an Initiative? Fucking racists replaced Takeda? As episodes sauntered on, viewers clamored for answers (with more or less profanity) and a return to the root of what has made this series so compelling to begin with, the eponymous revenge-seeking.

It would take an Amanda Clarke—not the calculating, competent main-protagonist one but the other—to bring back the vengeance we pay good DVR and hard drive space to enjoy. With her new, somewhat makeshift family in danger, Amanda leaped into action, while everyone else in Montauk was busy either chasing ghosts or sleeping with the enemy.1 Amanda played every Amanda Clarke card at her disposal—video evidence of all of the shady Grayson dealings that left the real Amanda’s dad in prison and eventually dead—in one brash, reckless play that made the casual viewer wonder why this wasn’t Emily’s plan to begin with. The Graysons were afraid. Her demands were met. Everything was going swimmingly.

That is, until we find Amanda and Jack on a honeymoon boat trip foreshadowed heavily to include inevitable bloodshed and at at least one sunken corpse. Fake-Amanda has always been an unpredictable agent of poor decision-making and clumsily unintentional sabotage, so the possibility of her being dispatched at sea by a more solution-oriented goon, simply made sense. In season one, there was even a very real chance that Emily would just kill her like a pawn in a game of chess where you kill pawns for not being good enough pawns.2

But this time around, it becomes clear that Emily needed and loved Amanda just as much as we found her infuriating. She followed directions poorly. She fell over banisters too easily. Her uterus was too healthy. She seemed a little slow. But we all should’ve appreciated fake-Amanda a little bit more. In a show very much about meticulous planning, diabolical schemes, and pristine lifestyles, perhaps ad nauseaum, someone needed to mess things up a bit. Amanda was the hand of the proletariat waving guns and computers filled with incriminating files in the face of all that is summer in the Hamptons. In this week’s episode reminds us that although our Emily Thorne might very well be the true lost child of the whole David Clarke as scapegoat travesty, Emily is still an insider here. Amanda is an outsider and, in a sense, as much the true victim of the Graysons’ and the Initiative’s wrongdoing as subprime mortgage holders or the American people if Conrad is elected to public office. In this light, Amanda’s sporadic, careless, shortsighted but admirable behavior appears to be more of a 99%er power move, orchestrating her own Occupy Revenge.

But sadly, just like her Wall Street counterpart, fake-Amanda Clarke, the poor girl from equal parts juvey and the streets, is now dead. Hopefully, her sacrifice leaves a lasting impression on the fictional landscape of Revenge, like all the bankers and politicians that were held accountable for their roles in ruining the real world landscape, global economy, and the lives of millions. Jk. That didn’t happen. But political ideologies aside, Revenge has an opportunity now to return to its original dynamic of bad guys and comeuppance, exposing the evils of the upper class, and righting wrongs. So just as Emily in some sense regains a bit more of her original Amanda-ness with the death of her surrogate sister, everything about the series must regain the luster of an all out brawl on behalf of the little guys, the ones framed as terrorists and murdered and cheated on and tortured by secretive cloak and dagger organizations. Remind us that rich people suck and designer clothes, lavish Labor Day parties, and convoluted plot points isn’t all that’s left in Montauk. Do it for us, truly just a bunch of fake-Amandas at heart.

1Sidenote: Wouldn’t finding out your little sister, who you’ve been searching for most of your life, is probably dead be exact time you would want your girlfriend to stop sleeping with her ex, even if it is part of some elaborate scheme to combat the shadowy killers? And after she supposedly stops, wouldn’t this be the exact wrong time for her to start fantasizing about how much she’s still in love with her childhood sweetheart on the day he is marrying her Count of Monte Christo avatar? Is Aiden going through his own hilarious “she’s just not that into” you subplot? Do we care enough about Aiden yet for it to matter?
2How does chess work?

Connie Britton

To the most cynically savvy viewer among us, the obvious question hanging over each new episode of ABC’s Nashville at this must be: which one of the lead female vocalists will be caught with their pants down, literally—cheating, two-timing, vow-forgetting, side-piece sampling, etc.—first? Each of these leading ladies has a case to be made for an upcoming oops, I’m in the wrong bed moment. Men in Nashville, TN apparently only come in the flavors of broken and heartbreaking. And if mothers all over the country find it necessary to warn their little girls about falling for musicians, there certainly has to be some sort of skull and crossbones sort of warning for politicians and athletes. It only makes sense for the ladies to continue to sample even after they’ve chosen entrees. So without further ado, let’s explore why, in detail, Rayna will get drunk and make out with Liam, the bad boy record producer guy.

That’s not to say that Juliette’s recent marriage and Scarlett’s faux love triangle (does Hailey make it a trapezoid?) won’t crumble in due time. The claim here that adultery and poor decision-making are on the horizon isn’t meant to be ambitious or even predictive. Rayna’s foreseeable transgression just speaks to how these familiar daytime TV stock characters and tropes have been revitalized in primetime by way of country-western lyrics and Wyclef. Rayna Jaymes and the girls are positioned, not at the mount of originality, but evidently, and more entertainingly, exactly where viewers want them most: firmly planted in familiar dysfunction. Adultery, corruption, drug abuse, Wyclef.

Mommy issues like Juliette Barnes’s usually grow stale pretty quickly on television (like the acting of anyone that has ever played Erica Kane’s daughter on All My Children) because it’s such a hard task to get the right smell of meth and neglect stuffed into the living rooms of the TV watching public. Never seems authentic enough or dramatic enough or we’re all just cold, jaded assholes because of our own mothers’ crack usage. Still, somehow Hayden’s Juliette has become a hypnotic example of an emotionally beaten daughter. She’s a hardened young pop princess with as much emotional baggage as blonde hair extensions and she carries it all as audaciously as could be desired. Her hurried marriage to star quarterback Sean Butler is the latest in her homages to real life celebrity hijinks, a nod to straight from the headlines sort of storytelling. Nothing groundbreaking here. So as we prepare for the Rayna-Juliette co-headlining mega tour (also pretty much written on the wall since the pilot episode), what we can also reasonably expect from Juliette is the continued impulse-driven bad girl act. Groupies should be on alert.

Let us not forget doe-eyed Scarlett and her dual suitors—the ex-boyfriend and the music partner. It’s hard to tell which she makes sweeter music with, perhaps because they have both revealed themselves to be patently subpar beaus while redeeming themselves just slightly enough to keep things interesting. Is it better to realize your mistakes and try to get back the girl that got away or to pounce on your crush as soon as the opportunity arises? Is it worse to start out a petty, insecure, and overbearing boyfriend, or in essence become one while dating another woman? Either way, Scarlett at some point will have to break a heart or two in Nashville, which will likewise come as a welcome non-surprise to many fans.

But why will Rayna Jaymes undoubtedly win this race to unfaithfulness, you ask? Well simply put: Everything begins and ends with Rayna. She is the matriarch of this series and Connie Britton has done a superb job making us all remember a simpler time when Patsy Cline and daytime soaps were legitimate religions for most Americans. She shines on the small screen and has brought all that undeniable magnetism from season 1 of American Horror Stories to Nashville this year in large doses. All of that and her newfound propensity to handle life’s hiccups with a bottle in her hand makes it a safe bet to assume she will have some huge, easily avoidable but nonetheless engaging, life-shattering slip up. If only because she is the actress and character most trusted in the cast to be able to pick herself back up. Deacon might be able to pull this off too, but Nashville is, if anything, about the women. Rayna is simply queen (even if “co-headlining”). And the queen needs to eat first. Liam the music man will increasingly look like food to her as the season moves towards its finale.

With that resolved, the next most pressing question on the Nashville menu would then have to be: Wyclef?

Because the weather in the northeast has become unpredictably hot like Canadian actress Emily VanCamp. (Like really? Who saw that coming?) Because Madeleine Stowe once decided to leave Hollywood to become a farmer but luckily returned to be one of the sexiest fifty-somethings on television. Because as the 2011-2012 television season comes to a close, we reflect on how difficult it was for ABC to find a new series that didn’t embarrass a famously defunct airline, Aaron Spelling’s ghost, Tim Allen’s tool belt, or the network itself. Because Wednesdays seem so hollow and humdrum without Revenge gracing our tubes with its weekly dose of crimson and guile. Because top arbitrary amount of things lists are an easy way to fill up a blog post for the uncreative. Whatever the cause of its conception, here lies the top five reasons to rewatch (if you haven’t already hopped on the bandwagon by now, I weep for you) the alphabet network’s clinic on compellingly satisfying TV Revenge:

5. Connor Paolo fans (I know you’re out there, Paolo-itos!) get promptly reintroduced to classic Eric van der Woodsen steez, as if to provide refuge to the hordes of Gossip Girl expats who clamor for a return to UES prep school attire. The character of Declan Porter on Revenge seems to be an appropriate remix of both Eric and Dan — if middle class Long Island towny isn’t the Brooklyn bred not-so-starving artist of 2012, I don’t know what is. And somehow, this amalgam works pretty well in the Hamptons. Declan has the relatively rough backstory to give his usually opaque whimpers (and complexion) some color. Speaking of…

4. The color red. It’s everywhere. It foreshadows, underscores, and highlights. It somehow legitimizes an almost too simple premise and title card. The scarlet color palette is just part of the richly provocative aesthetic of Revenge. The sartorial direction must be noted as well.1 The pilot episode sets a precedent by introducing a majority of the players in snazzy red formal attire under the auspices of both an engagement party and a murder. Revenge appears most palpable when red, and the series is most stirring when it explores relationship and/or displays violence. The color red connotes bloodshed and lust simultaneously, and the series persistently teeters between the two to the benefit of its viewers.

3. The show’s sheer consistency in performance has to be praised. Those that follow TV show advanced metrics (is that a real thing yet?), may appreciate the stats where Revenge excels: ranking first in dramatic reveals per televised hour, leading the pack in voiceover efficiency quotient, and off the charts scores in flashback utilization rate. There’s’ simply something impressive about the exposition of story in the series. Creator Mike Kelley, of One Tree Hill and The O.C. fame, exploits familiar tropes — from combat training and wisdom gaining from older Asian men to young love struggling to traverse disparate upbringings — to bring essentially The Count of Monte Cristo: Suffolk County Edition to the small screen from a female perspective.

2. And that female perspective is terrific. Emily VanCamp’s performance makes the television you overpaid for because some kid at Best Buy made fun of you for not going bigger when you really just wanted him to explain why your antenna stopped working worth every cent. She effectively manages a host of storylines, identities, romances, red outfits, fight scenes, scowls, fake smiles, real smiles, and lies. Emily as Emily Thorne or Amanda Clarke, as a brunette or a blonde, delicate or ass-kicking, is simply a joy to watch. She’s a sympathetic female protagonist who operates with a level of agency and competence regrettably uncommon among TV’s leading ladies. No lady from Liz Lemon to the Girls girls is as capable as Amanda Clarke/Emily Thorne. In fact, she’s more comparable to Don Draper. Yeah, I said it. Revenge should be called Mad WoMen. (I know. Sorry.)

1. That brings me to the final reason you should rewatch the addictive first season of Revenge this summer, and prepare for its Fall return: Emily VanCamp’s ascension from girl next door cute to femme fatale hot, alongside Madeleine Stowe’s reassertion of her own unwavering good looks as summer ice queen of the Hampton’s, Victoria Grayson.2 The two of them playing off one another is captivating, if only for the high level of pretty that each brings to the table. Fundamentally, that is what the show offers — a casual dalliance into the world of the beautifully coiffed 1%. There’s certainly something superficial about the appeal of the series, but when superficial is done well enough, what’s genuine is how much you enjoy where you’ve found yourself, how interested you are in the pretty faces. In that, the most important reason to rewatch Revenge is truly Emily VanCamp’s interestingly (unconventionally?) pretty face and everything that it may represent for a viewer.

There’s certainly something significant to be said about the ability of this young woman to lead a successful network series as a fully dressed, strong, and able woman. But I’d rather close with the latest gossip that Emily VanCamp was spotted making out with her costar, Josh Bowman (Daniel Grayson).3

1And the lovely Ashley Madekwe must be mentioned here. Aside from being an unabashed fashionista on and off the screen, I spent at least four episodes deciphering her racial makeup. I settled on her being part Black, Western African, because of her English accent but she was definitely Puerto Rican or Bengali for a scene or two. She’s like a chameleon, always just the right color, always just the right outfit.

2In 1994 she was one of People‘s “50 Most Beautiful People in the World.” In 1995, she was one of Empire‘s “100 Sexiest Stars in film history.”

3Greatest disappointment from Revenge‘s first season: Daniel not being dead. And now, he’s smooching my boo.

As the warm season approaches, networks often have difficult (and not-so) decisions to make regarding their schedules and roster of programming. Surely the ratings have a lot to do with the decision making processes, but, as fans, we like to believe other factors come into play to some extent — whether it’s product placement monetization, #hashtag trend prominence, or executives possibly playing favorites hopefully with our favorites. We choose to believe in these less quantifiable and more unconventional series success variables so to justify our hope in the future of a favorable TV landscape, a future of fully packed DVRs and neglected loved ones. The hope fuels the ubiquitous social media campaigns, the zealous written pleas mailed to the network in bulk (do people still do that?), and manic financial support for commercial sponsors. Whatever the cause for each decision, cancel or renew, either a fandom finds corroboration in an x number of episodes commitment or viewers curse the callousness of network suits and their unwavering reverence to whims of Nielsen homes.

And all of that is simply to say this — listed at times with brazen bias:

  • Community has been renewed by NBC for a fourth season of 13 episodes. Not a surprise necessarily but surely a relief to many. This season has been filled with ups and downs for Community fans — consistently low ratings followed by a long impromptu mid-season hiatus, then a solid return with quality episodes that appeared to showcase creator Dan Harmon’s pointed response to the show’s received criticisms and uncertain future. To top it all off, it’s funny as fuck. The recent episode “Curriculum Unavailable” provided a ceremonious goodbye to the paintball episode tradition and, in essence, the Community of old. Times are a-changin’. And Community still has time (a new time actually, on Fridays come Fall), even if, rumor has it, Dan Harmon doesn’t.
  • FOX is giving Fringe a fifth and final season of 13 episodes, 13 more opportunities for Peter-Olivia shippers to be simultaneously placated to and kept in a persistent state of unease. That Fringe.
  • NBC has also given 30 Rock the go ahead to produce 13 more episodes for what is being labeled the final season. The guarantee is more that Tina Fey and the gang will be returning, not necessarily that the amount of episodes is set in stone or in this being the true last season, last inevitable live episode, last batch of Donaghy-isms, etc.
  • TBS has successfully acquired Cougar Town from ABC, saving the comedy from certain cancellation. Another opportunity for comedic relativism (“You just don’t get it. It’s funny.”) to gain some traction for those that stand by Courtney Cox’s ability to deliver on humor.
  • A bunch of no brainers were renewed including: ABC’s Happy Endings and Shonda Rhimes stuffs; an assortment of CSINCIS’s on CBS; Parenthood, Smash and Law & Order:SVU on the peacock network; and Bones and New Girl on FOX.
  • New shows The Secret Circle, Ringer, both on the CW Network; GCG on ABC; The Finder and Breaking In on FOX; NBC’s Awake, Best Friends Forever, and Are You There Chelsea? have all been canceled, Awake due to its overly advanced brand of storytelling, the rest because they sucked. But to be fair, there’s no guarantee Breaking In will stay canceled — that sly Christian Slater.
  • Have you ever watched NYC 22? Good. And now you won’t have to.
  • TV by the Numbers has a handy list of all other cancelations and renewals for the whole season.
  • Finally, Community and Fringe have been renewed! (Still great news the second time around.)